Arabian Travel Market: Hygiene is now travelers’ ‘number one demand’, hotel owners say

Hygiene has become the number one demand of customers and diners – even more than luxury or value for money, several hospitality chefs said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented levels of surveillance from the public, and resort reviews and reputations depend more than ever on meeting expectations.

“Previously, cleaning staff was kept in the background, but now it is brought to the fore by hotels,” said Michel Augier, Regional Director Middle East and Africa at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. The National at the Arab Travel Market in Dubai.

“Obviously the emphasis has always been on cleanliness, but now it’s like never before.”

Although we have overcome the worst, we certainly need to keep the precautions in place.

Michel Augier, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts

Mr Augier said he was optimistic after a difficult year for the hospitality industry, and on the same day, Abu Dhabi tourism officials said quarantine-free travel would begin there from July 1. .

But he said operators must remain vigilant.

“Although we have overcome the worst, we certainly need to keep the precautions in place,” he said.

“Watch how touch points like elevator buttons are cleaned regularly throughout the day,” he said, adding that customer interest in the cleaning process was at an all time high.

His own company was one of many that had to adapt to the demand for hotel proofs going beyond expectations.

Michel Augier says hotel guests want to see cleaners on patrol, not in hiding. Pawan Singh / The National

“Each of our hotels has a ‘hygiene hero’ who defends the protocols at every property,” he said.

“And we are developing contactless technology that allows guests to check in and access their rooms through their phones,” he said.

Michael Zager, chief operating officer of Hospitality Management Holding, which manages 10 hotels in the Middle East, said the pandemic had quickly changed the industry.

“When September 11 happened, security was a whole different ball game the next day,” he said.

“Something similar is happening with hygiene in the wake of the pandemic.

“Hygiene has always been crucial, but the pandemic has created an extra layer of importance.”

Michael Zager, COO of Hospitality Management Holding, at the Arabian Travel Market held at the Dubai World Trade Center.  Pawan Singh / The National

Michael Zager said many young people in particular will travel abroad as soon as possible. Pawan Singh / The National

He also said authorities in the United Arab Emirates have battled the pandemic to the point that major in-person events such as the ATM, which takes place this week at the World Trade Center, can accommodate thousands of people.

“ATM could easily have been canceled but it was important to send a message,” said Zager, whose company manages Coral brands and will soon open its new Ecos hotel near the Expo 2020 site in Dubai.

“Each barometer shows that we are on the road to recovery and that people want to travel again.”

He said the travel restrictions created by the pandemic created a thirst for travel, especially among young people.

“Millennials in particular want to travel. They want an experience and expect value for money, ”he said.

“They are living for now and not just saving their money for when they’re 75, which might never happen.”

While he predicted that the industry was on the road to recovery, it could be several years before the Gulf and the region as a whole returned to normal trade.

“You have to be positive, especially after the success of the vaccination campaign. But you also have to be realistic, ”said Zager.

“It might take three, four or five years before we get back to normal, whatever normal is.

“We just have to take it month by month or quarter by quarter for now.”

About Kristina McManus

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